How do we fight divisiveness?

Divisiveness today is the foundation of instability in our country. What  if you could do something – one on one – to fight it?

Here’s one way: Walk a mile in your friend’s shoes. Consider information from their sources. Don’t react. Don’t judge.


Do you have a friend who voted “the other way”, and now you are having trouble talking to each other?

What can you do to understand your friend’s point of view? There are things you have in common. You both love your country.  You both want to see changes, but you have different ideas on how to get there.

You also have different news sources and different interpretations of events. You both think you’re right. You both feel that “the other side” is living in a different reality. But are we really? Sometimes, knowing what your friend is seeing and hearing on Mainstream Media can help you step out of your silo and into your friend’s shoes. And wouldn’t you like your friend to do the same?

I have a challenge for you…

Dare a friend. Double Dog Dare a friend. Do it on Facebook and Twitter, and pass it on. Let it go viral.

Dare your friend to watch one hour of a news show of your choice for 3 days – you pick the show – and you do the same for them. When you are both done, get together (maybe over coffee or lunch) to compare notes.  If it’s not possible to get together, pick up the phone, or simply compare notes on Facebook.

Are you thinking that you couldn’t possibly stomach watching your friend’s show for 3 days? Guess what? Your friend is thinking the same thing.

That’s what makes this a challenge, a dare.

Can you do it? Will you do it?

Do whatever it takes to rise to the challenge. Sit in front of your computer, take notes to fact check, have a cup of coffee (or beverage of choice).

This is your friend. Don’t you want to understand their world a little more? Isn’t that what friends are for?

Ground rules: make a commitment to*:

  • Be curious and open to learning.
  • Show respect and suspend judgment.
  • Find common ground and appreciate differences.

At the end, answer these few simple questions and share your thoughts with your friend:

  • How did it make you feel?
  • What did you learn or what surprised you?
  • What did you empathize with?
  • What common ground did you find?
  • How has your relationship with you friend changed?
  • What can you do to continue to understand your friend’s point of view?

And if you really want to make this challenge work — Don’t forget to pass it on!  Challenge another — and another!

If you can’t get your friend to accept the challenge, you can still fly solo: Pick a show—any show— from “the other network” and watch it for 3 nights, and share your experience.  It can still help you connect with your friend.

NO CHEATING!  I often hear the pushback: “We could just share news articles”.  That’s not this challenge and it’s not as hard or as effective. Try this challenge first.  Then, if you want to share articles later, go for it.

* from Living Room Conversations


  1. Maybe its just me but more often than not I find that people with rigid ideas are not even close to rational.

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